In Wole Soyinka, The Man Never Died By Odusote Oluwakayode
As a Nigerian, I have known political disappointments, I have seen stolen mandates and I have witnessed the shameful celebration of political failures. Nigeria’s experience since our democratic journey began in 1999 illustrates that, on their own, policy changes will not redress decades of mismanagement, especially when the degree of self centered commitment of the elite remains unaltered.
In Africa, Nigeria presents a stark example of the combined effects of external shocks and domestic policy failures. Following a post-independence decade of robust economic growth, the nation declined dramatically following incessant military take over. Most of the participants of several coups are today referred to as elder statesmen to the extent that a centenary celebration award was given to some of them – not minding their roles in the mismanagement of the country’s resources. Some eminent persons were also listed to be awarded and among them is Prof. Wole Soyinka.
I admire Prof a lot and most time I share in his opinion on issues. I am not sure if he had a heart break the moment he recognized the “canonization of evil” but I’m sure he must have had several of these heartbreaks and disappointments in relation to our continued failure as a democratic state.
They celebrated a centenary – yes “they”! It was a celebration greased with mediocrity and wastage. I could not clearly deduce the reason for such celebration at a critical time of national crisis- where the menace of Boko Haram assumed the trend of slaughtering secondary school pupils – you must have read the gory stories yet few people paused to ask simple questions and few people acted. Some concerned citizens acted by organizing protests and calling on the government to do something about the incessant insurgency. Wole Soyinka’s reaction to abysmal leadership failures was a total rejection of such awards celebrating failures.
I think by now we are made to believe that failure comes with a golden price because if not, the likes of Sanni Abacha and cohorts will not be deemed fit to be celebrated on the altar of democracy. We witnessed the episodes of pardon and subtle discharge for some criminals our government referred to as heroes. In celebrating corruption, the PDP nominated Commodore Olabode George as a delegate for a national conference – the recommendations of such man at a supposed gathering of eminent nationalist is easily assumed and the agenda of the PDP easily read.
President Goodluck Jonathan knows all this and he feigns innocence. He sometimes pretends to mean well and expect fellow Nigerians to put all blames on some of his aides. The most embarrassing medium currently adopted to deceive the more is the strategy of running to the pulpit to proclaim the gospel according to PDP. When hands are stretched to declare prayers, he sometimes forgets that God cannot be deceived. What sort of blessing does a president kneeling in front of congregations that have no jobs, no security, no light, no infrastructure and quality roads want?
What sort of man is Wole Soyinka? He is a man of quality, a hero and a patriot. He doesn’t belong to the fold of thieves, killers – yes killers of persons and institutions. In a country where we ask questions whether a Nigerian leader can actually serve patriotically, I have come to realize that he is not just a Nigerian but a true Nigerian patriot. The specific content of patriotism is determined by historical conditions – for people like Abacha’s son, the courageous strides of Wole Soyinka should be a point of reference. There is the “patriotism” of the corrupt leaders – they buy their way into prominence. The patriots like Soyinka have always and will always resolutely oppose the “patriotism” of the corrupt leaders.
The episodes of corruption are incessant and the fall out of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s sack is still fresh. This is a country that belongs to over 140 million people from different ethnic nationalities; yet, the few elites driven by intoxication of power have waged war against progress, peace and unity. To bring about the defeat of these set of oppressors and of their various platforms by every democratic possible means is in the interests of the ordinary Nigerian.
Part of the resultant effect of failed leadership is the Boko Haram insurgency launched by some illogical aggressors to harm innocent people. Those mostly affected have no means of purchasing bullet proof or armored vehicles, they have no security detail, they do not have the means to elope for safety and they do not have the genuine guarantee of the government for protection. They are left exposed to the killing claws of the blood suckers. Late Sanni Abacha was part of those that created such environment.
For a person like WS, accepting to keep silent or refusing to take action in the face of these daunting challenges is defeatism. The courage he provides is for every Nigerian to strive for victory in the war against corrupt practices. For only by fighting in defense of transparency can we defeat corruption and achieve a nation practicing true democracy – by that the people achieve total emancipation.
The nation’s leadership is not expected to use their privileged positions to further cause division. Running into churches to pretentiously seek the face of God is a mockery of the tenets of religion and such can spark unnecessary religious acrimony. Creating sentiments among ethnic nationalities just to garner political support is never in the interest of the nation.
If some so called leaders don’t feel shameful about their loots, it is important they pause to ask that what kind of spirit is it that makes people like WS, Gani Fawehinmi, Joe Okei Odumakin selflessly adopt the cause of transparency, justice, equal rights for all and true federalism with passion? It is because they think of the people’s interest beyond their own personal interest.
It must have taken Abacha’s son some careless courage to put up a response in defense of his father – he stooped to conquer. With so much evil perpetrated under the regime of his late father, what should the family of late Ken-Saro Wiwa, Kudirat Abiola and even Fela Anikulapo Kuti write about? WS has an indomitable spirit and he’s determined to vanquish all enemies and never to yield to oppressive pressures. No matter what the difficulties and hardships, so long as a single man remains, his courage is just adequate to raise people’s confidence in a resolute belief – courage in battle, no fear of sacrifice, no fear of fatigue, and continuous fighting.
WS have many good qualities and have rendered great service to the nation. In him, the man never died.
There have been such people in the past, they are respected by all, and quite rightly, but were easily bought over. They lost being modest and disrespected the people’s trust in their integrity. In such wagon of disgrace is Reuben Abati – the man died in him. He cheaply sacrificed hard earned integrity for porridge of power- all in the name of service.
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